Archive for March, 2018

Time Shards by Dana Fredsti and David Fitzgerald

March 23, 2018 - 7:16 pm No Comments

Time Shards by Dana Fredsti and David Fitzgerald

Published by Titan Books on 30th January 2018

442 pages

Reviewed by Chris Stocks

Imagine that spacetime, rather than being continuous, is like a stack of jigsaw puzzles, with each puzzle being an instant in time. Imagine further, as per the premise of this SF thriller, that some unknown temporal Event breaks up these jigsaws into random pieces and stitches the world together again. The result is a patchwork landscape consisting of pieces of varying shape and size, all in the right place geographically, but torn from a random era of history, from the Silurian to the present – and possibly beyond.

Initially the narrative is as fractured as the landscape, told from the viewpoints of a variety of people, some of whom are historical figures, including George Washington, Julius Caesar and Neil Armstrong. However, after these brief episodes illustrating the scope and effects of the Event, the action is then mostly confined to south-east England as seen through the eyes of a smaller cast of characters including Amber, a feisty present-day Californian, currently living in Essex; Blake, a grizzled World War II and ex-SAS veteran from the 1950s; Cam, a young Celtic warrior from pre-Roman Britannia, and Alex Brice, a policewoman from 1985.

Together with a small group of other survivors, they navigate the post-apocalyptic landscape, struggling against fearsome prehistoric predators – from carnivorous dinosaurs to dire wolves and giant scorpions. But, as so often happens in such scenarios, their most dangerous foes are not these creatures but other humans. Here it is a group of Roundhead soldiers, who, mistakenly believing that they caused the Event, want to burn them at the stake as witches and warlocks.

The group rescues ‘Merlin’, a mysterious, catatonic character from these Roundheads. Recovering from an apparently fatal headwound, he reveals himself as a near-future astronomer. He also claims to know something about the cause of the temporal Event – and maybe a way to reverse it…

This is the first book in a trilogy by Dana Fredsti and David Fitzgerald. It is an exciting, fast-moving story with an interesting set of characters, an unusual setting and plenty of monsters – both animal and human. There are a few technical inaccuracies – for example, George Washington could not have identified a herd of elephant-like creatures as Mastodons in 1789, as this term was not coined by Cuvier until 1806 (thanks, Wikipedia!) – but this doesn’t really matter. This is not a work of hard-SF, but a rollicking adventure – and as an adventure story it works superbly. The protaganists are interesting and (mostly) sympathetic, and I enjoyed both the surrealistically patchwork setting and the break-neck pace of the plot. Time Shards ends on a suitably suspenseful cliff-hanger and I look forward to seeing where the adventure leads in the second volume. In summary, a fast-paced read and a thoroughly enjoyable piece of escapism.

The Frighteners:Why We Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death and Gore by Peter Laws

March 22, 2018 - 6:40 pm No Comments

The Frighteners: Why we Love Monsters, Ghosts, Death and Gore by Peter Laws
Published by Icon Books Ltd on 22nd March 2018
320 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

If you have followed my reviews you know that I have not reviewed any non-fiction. The reason is that I like to take myself off to a fictional world. However when I was asked to read The Frighteners written by ordained Baptist Minister Peter Law, it piqued my interest to see what he wrote.
Every chapter was dedicated to a different horror topic and chapter one is a bio of the author. Whilst reading it I was so pleased that I had found someone else who had the same interests and even had the same type of friends and colleagues. Whilst I do not have a large Hammer House of Horror poster in my office, I collect creepy dolls and have macabre pictures in my lounge and yes my work colleagues think I am weird. Other chapters are Theatre of Blood, Wired for Fright, Hiding the Bodies, Zombies Everywhere, Killer Culture, The Beast Within, Deadtime Stories, The Haunted and Sister.
With each chapter you read, you get to learn more about the author as he always had a personal story to tell. Whether it was meeting George A Romano (so jealous) or touring a funeral parlour, he has done so much for his love of horror. Every chapter was packed with plenty of research, making this book an absorbing read and whilst I read it I learnt a lot about the history of the macabre. Included in the research were interviews with people who are experts in their field. Having all the research enabled him to argue both sides eloquently and he showed how his love of horror strengthen his faith.
Throughout this book I was googling facts as there were so many topics that I wanted to know more about. Living not far from Hull, I was extremely interested in the goings on there and unfortunately I made the mistake of mention the werewolf sightings to my teenagers and now my son wants to go on a werewolf hunt.
Whilst there was a lot of serious discussion, there was also some laugh out loud moments and I can just picture two grown men walking round Hull dragging two peppered steaks, hoping to lure a werewolf.
Finishing this book is a HP Lovecraft quote That is not dead which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die, which I think sums up this book
This was a great read and whilst I do not read non fiction, I am glad that I have got the chance to read it. Now I’m off to read Purged, his horror novel.

Strong Like Me by Laurel Veil

March 18, 2018 - 10:45 am No Comments

Strong Like Me by Laurel Veil
Published 26th June 2014
153 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Jessica is about to turn 16. Having rich parents, she is used to getting what she wants. All she wants in life in a red convertible BMW and a bi party. What she gets is a paranormal visit, but what is the spirit trying to show her.
Jessica was one of the most annoying characters I have read in a long while, she was a proper little rich brat, always getting what she wants and was rude to everyone. Although do not let this put you off the story. As the story continues you get to find out about her so called “amazing life” and by the end of the story I felt sorry for her.
The story is a quick read as there is always something going on. As you follow Jessica on her paranormal journey, you are drawn in to her life and you soon come to realise what her life was really like. There is a similarity to A Christmas Carol as you get to know about her past, present and future, but she is not alone. As I have said I felt sorry for her and whilst I could not condone her attitude, I understood her. The addition of Jed and Amanda showed the true description of friendship and whilst I thought I knew where this story was going there was one revelation I did not see coming.
This is not horror as you are used to but then when A Christmas Carol came out that was also classified as horror. An enjoyable quick read

Ghost in the Park(Unruly Ghost Mysteries Book 1) by Julianne Q Johnson

March 15, 2018 - 10:22 pm No Comments

Ghost in the Park (Unruly Ghost Mysteries Book 1) by Julianne Q Johnson
Published by JQJ Books on 21 August 2017
282 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

Professor of English literature, Bryce Campbell has a gift. Whilst he writes bodice ripping stories to top up his wages, he also is a clairaudient, a person that hears the dead. When one of his students becomes the 6th victim of a serial killer, Bryce gets himself involved in the case.. To make his life more complicated, he attracts Elizabeth, an unusual ghost who can not remember how she died. With his special talents can Bryce help his best friend and lead detective Chase Robinson catch the killer and free Elizabeth’s spirit.
From page 1 I liked Bryce, he was comfortable with his abilities and never once thought himself a freak. Although he comes across as happy with his life, his meeting with Elizabeth shows exactly how lonely he was and the further you read his story, you understand why. With the additional visits from Grandpa Harris and Todd made it feel like a dysfunctional family. Elizabeth was a feisty teenager and having her story run along the serial killer story gave it some light relief.
The serial killer’s method of kill was surprising gruesome as the majority of this book read like a cozy. The relationship between Bryce and Chase was like brothers and when Elizabeth came along , was like the addition of a irritating little sister. There was some comedy moments when the ghosts started to act up.
As a British reader and reading about a British main character, I enjoyed that the author threw a few correct English phrases into the story and whilst Bryce liked his tea that was the only British stereotype.
I enjoyed this story so much I have one clicked book 2, a refreshing read

The Gaia Effect by Claire Buss

March 14, 2018 - 10:31 pm 1 Comment

The Gaia Effect by Claire Buss
Published by New Generation Publishing on 21st December 2016
234 pages
Reviewed by Yvonne Davies

After The Event, City 42 is run by the Corporation. Relying a lot on technology there are the minority that are not happy with this world. Kira and Jed want to start a family and whilst they use technology to get their wish. Kira a believer of Gaia wants to use nature to bring her child up. Other’s not happy with the state of the city are Anti-Corp, a resistance group who try and sabotage the city, but after there is a sexual assault and medical abnormalities, things get serious and a time for change is needed.
Kira was passionate with everything she did, as an employee of the Archives, she learnt a lot about the “old”ways and stood her ground when people forced technology onto her. Jed her partner was a police officer for the force, honourable and was good at his job. Both were family orientated and spent time with their close friends. Even though their friends all had different views on the way the city was run, Kira and Jed calming influence united them to help the city.
With a handful of main characters, you get to learn about each one and watch how they develop and grow. Two character that had major changes were Dina who at the start was a very quiet girl, but after her medical emergency played a major part in the exposure of the water contamination and Martha living in her father’s shadows but when she became a victim in an assault and was one of the medical abnormalities, she took control of her life.
Whilst this story is set in a post apocalyptic world, on the surface., it seemed a pleasant place to live, but as you read further into the story, you realise what control the corporation had. I enjoyed reading about the technology that the people used and it would be great to have some of that tech in the world today. There was intrigue throughout and the appearance of a blue lady throughout gave it mystery. The story was well plotted and the intrigue made you want to read more. Scattered throughout the story were sweeps (similar to tweets) which were either giving out information or spreading rumors. Whilst at the start I found they helped the story, as the story continued I did skip them as I found I just wanted to read the story.
This is the 1st story I have read by this author and it looks like another author I will be adding to my reading list